Friday 22 October 2010

Review - Monkey Nuts: The Diamond Egg of Wonders by The Etherington Brothers

Welcome to the Isla de Monstera, home of the world's only tap-dancing, banana-loving, rust-fighting, coconut-talking, crime-busting organisation... MONKEY NUTS! In their very first adventure, Sid, Rivet and Chief Tuft are forced to do battle against a horde of random oddballs and weirdos. When a mysterious signal begins to drive the local loonies into a crazy rage, the Monkey Nuts team have no choice but to grab their masks and get heroic!

A few days ago I reviewed the quirky and totally fab Verne and Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre, and in that review I promised that I would soon be posting about another recent release from The DFC Library, Monkey Nuts by the Etherington Brothers. They say that variety is the spice of life and the people at The DFC sure know how to keep their fans' lives spiced to the limit. So far their releases have included the beautiful and atmospheric Mezolith, a stunning book that was very different to the funny noir-inspired Good Dog, Bad Dog, itself different from Sarah McIntyre's pastel-coloured, chilled (though equally funny) creation. And now in Monkey Nuts we have even more variety to add to the mix - a book that is totally crazy, fun, frantic and exciting - sort of like the 'Dick and Dom' of the comic book world.

The first thing that you notice about Monkey Nuts are the colours - you have no option but to notice them as they are so gloriously vibrant. Look closer though (once your eyes have got used to the rich kaleidoscope of colour) and you will then notice the exquisite detail that Lorenzo Etherington puts into his illustrations; detail that is always very clear despite the vibrancy of the colours and the business of his panels. For busy they are although on first reading the temptation to just bathe in the colours was so overwhelming that I missed a lot of the many less obvious elements in some of the panels, and especially on the occasional splash pages. This book is made to be read again and again: I have now been through it three times and I was still spotting new things.

The appeal of this book is far more than just aesthetic though: Robin Etherington is a skilled writer and his text is the perfect accompaniment to his brother's artwork. The story revolves around the mad-cap antics of Sid the monkey and his new crime-fighting partner Rivet (a robot). 'Thrown' together at the beginning of the story they soon find themselves up against monster after monster, aided by boss of the Serious Crime Squad, Chief Tuft (who just happens to be a coconut...... see, told you it was pretty crazy). The monsters have been drawn to the duo's island paradise home of Isla De Monstera by a Monster Magnet, which has been activated by the dastardly Lord Terra (somewhat un-villainously aka Eric). Lord Terra is after the Diamond Egg of Wonders, a valuable and mystical artefact, yet during a food-poisoning induced Vision he sees the two 'warriors of good' who could foil his plan, warriors who just happen to look like Sid and Rivet. His only hope is that the legion of monsters that feel drawn to the island will destroy the duo and leave the way open for him to get his hands on the Egg.

Young readers will love Monkey Nuts as it has everything they could ask for in a comic book. It is action packed, with great characters, and amazing illustrations. It is also very, very funny: how's this for an opening 'speech bubble': "Deep underground, directly below the strange area of Earth known as The Bermuda Triangle, stands a fortress so evil-looking that it sometimes scares itself! This monstrosity is called Tabitha, and within her stone nostril lives a being even more evil than she!". Brilliant!

Monkey Nuts - The Diamond Egg of Wonders was published at the beginning of September as part of The DFC Library. My thanks go to the generous people at David Fickling Books for sending me a copy to review.

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